The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel was quite a surprise to me when I first played it back in 2013. While I skipped out on the PS3 version, it always felt right at home on the Vita with the rest of the systems catalogue of underrated RPGs. Trails of Cold Steel, however, was always one of the JRPGs that stuck out to me in particular. Whether it be through it’s unique story and characters, or its classic turned-based RPG elements, Nihon Falcom’s game was more of what I had been looking for with the PS Vita. However, now with it’s “remastered” version hitting PC, its worth another deep dive into the world of Erebonia.
Trails of Cold Steel is a tale of a special sect of the Erebonian Empire that is undergoing training for special missions and tasks. What I always found unique about Trails of Cold Steel is it’s confidence to discuss social class warfare and the various prejudices that come with it. Other than the theme of social class integration for the new sect, Trails of Cold Steel is a by-the-books sort of RPG story. Most of the characters and dialogue were often overly dramatic and never seemed to react to a situation in the right tone or way. But all in all, the story is workable and just lends its hand in a fun gameplay loop.
Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel features plenty of the typical JRPG turned-based action you would come to expect from the series. Notably, Trails of Cold Steel always felt like it had one of the more dynamic turned-based combat phases, as there is very rarely ever a pause in between character moves. What’s fantastic about the remastered version is that everything seems to run a whole lot smoother than the original Vita or PS3 version. Of course, we will discuss the visuals later in the review, but its safe to say that the gameplay is slightly more fun when the game looks just a little bit better.
Other than the combat phases, Trails of Cold Steel’s overworld features what can only be described as a “JRPG” overworld. Mostly empty, and very little going on, I often find myself hopping/running mission to mission to get through the story. What’s best about this remastered version that I don’t remember being in the original is the option to speed up the time of day; a feature lovely when you’re trying to get through grinding missions quickly to keep up the pace and urgency the story is trying to convey.
For the most part, Trails of Cold Steel looks great on PC. It’s not necessarily the best looking JRPG on the market, but for a game developed for PS3/Vita, it looks just as good as I remember. It also runs at a smooth 60 frames per second, and never seemed to dip below that. However, the most striking improvement over the original release of the game is the introduction of over 5,000 new voiced dialogue. It was immediately noticed in even the most mundane conversations, and it made the game much more enjoyable. It may seem like a minor feature, but if you’re 60+ hours into an RPG, it gets pretty tedious trying to read all of the dialogue and keep up with the story.